Went on watch 0400 , code 3 up in 18 to 20 knots and a tricky sea . Was about to take helm from Vad when Seamus came up and said we were going to gybe .Rather than take the helm I went and rigged the drop line for a gybe then went to the leeward side by the mast to get ready to release the foreguys. Next thing we feel the boat heeling and our feet are now in the water as the boat rounds up and broaches . I grabbed the shrouds and moved closer to the mast. Next thing there is the typical loud noise of the spinnaker sheets hitting the deck as the spinnaker reinflates ,followed by the spinnaker appearing beside us in the water. We look up and realise it has torn in two several metres from the head. Eventually a team of us retrieve it from the water and I go forward and detach the tack.
We then send Afshin up the mast to tie a rope to the head of the kite. Then three of us pull the line down to retrieve the head of the spinnaker and the halyards. Finally we hoist the yankee 2 and get back under way . An hour later we gybe and now are heading east ,having come further south than most of the fleet. With the wind dropping we are a little underpowered ,but not enough to set the code 2 .
Our support watch we cooked pasta Bolognaise for lunch . The guitar came out for us to sing a song for the coming Chinese New Year and Jorge and I provided some pre lunchtime entertainment.
Never a dull moment aboard Sanya.
Woke before my watch to the sound of a flogging main with the boat heeled over severely ,sure signs of a broach. The wind had come up overnight and now gusting to over 40 knots. When I looked outside soon after Seumas had taken the wheel. The sea state had increased but at times the waves were at an odd angle causing the boat to round up.
Up on watch at 0400 and Seumas had the wheel for the first 45 minutes. The wind continued to increase and we had a squall come through that topped 50 knots.In general the boat was under control though shortly after the 50 knot gust we had a round up that took quite a time to wrest control.As usual it is a pleasure to watch him in action although he did mention he may be a bit rusty , I guess a result of having a well trained bunch of amateurs doing the steering. I took the helm with the breeze varying from 32 to 42 knots, and in general the boat was behaving but we had the odd round up.
The wind was gradually easing so that by the morning watch change we took a reef out of the main.
Anyway still heading mainly east at reasonable speed.
Night of 29 December
Went on watch 1600 UTC which is now 0100 local with the words of the off going watch leader urging the skipper that we should shake out the reef. Indeed I got to the helm and yacht did feel a little underpowered but still doing 11 knots. The night was beautifully star lit and the helm was light . I gave the helm to someone who should be able to handle the conditions but unfortunately they steered too high and copped the rather cold spray of a wave which detracted somewhat from the experience and also hit me in the face knocking my glasses off. I took back the helm . Chris managed to find my glasses on the aft deck for me before they washed overboard. Within 2 minutes a dark cloud of a squall covered the sky and wind hit us hard going suddenly from 20 to 40 knots. I was unable to stop the boat rounding up in a broach. The scene I saw ahead was eerie. The sky was now pitch black ,the sight of the yacht now sitting half on its side illuminated by the cabin lights ,the Windex at the top of the mast at a now 50 degree angle ,all interrupted by the fluorescence of small sea creatures emerging from the spray. I called for the main to be eased and on the third attempt was able to get the yacht to bear away. In the darkness it was then a matter of making sure we didnt now crash gybe ,which we did avoid. Pretty much it was dark for the next 40 minutes with the wind in the low 30 s before the stars again made their appearance.
I got Dave to the helm and debriefed the earlier helmsman in the cockpit.
Later in the watch with our COG( course overground) of 50 Seumas came up and we gybed and were now making a COG of 120 ,nearer to the rhumb line toward the Southern tip of Tassy. A short while after
we were greeted to a glorious pre dawn light and then the dawn before we handed over to the new watch.
Ice and Hail
Went up on watch to a single reefed main and yankee 2 with 25 to 32 knots ,140 degree wind angle. Speed demon Carl was at the wheel and plunged the boat down a wave at 20.2 knots just before he hands over the helm. The conditions were just perfect downwind white sail surfing conditions. I hit 18 knots plus several times during the first hour but only managed a19.7 Max.
I took back the helm around 25 minutes before watch change. Seumas commented about shaking out the reef but I said there was a rather large black cloud approaching.
As this comes over there is some rain followed by a wind increase to 28 knots. Next the wind shifts 20 degrees the air goes cold and it starts hailing. Followed by a flash of lightning a little ahead of the boat and the clap of thunder.
Fortunately the hail stones were small in size . The view was surreal with the yacht pointing straight down the waves into a boiling sea created by the hail . I suggested to the crew we were still underpowered and we should get the skipper up.
It all lasted about 5 minutes; then we shook out the reef.
As we were now approaching the ice limit of 45 degrees South we gybed back to a more northerly course on the subsequent watch.
New Year’s Eve from Hell
After 2 days of pleasant downwind sailing we came up on deck on New Year’s Eve for our watch. A second reef had just been put in the main. Wind was 35 knots plus ,no stars were visble ,no moon, just blackness ahead. Seumas was at the wheel and it looked like steering was difficult. He handed me the wheel and said we just have to steer a 60 degree compass course. Our compass on this tack ,at this point in time, is difficult to read due to a misplaced light and housing that doesn’t remain In place. 60 Degree compass aligned with a Windex(wind indicator at top of the mast) angle of 90 degrees so that’s what I steered or tried to.
When you were on course it was possible for short periods to steer a straight course. Then a wave would kick the stern around and the yacht would round up . This was difficult to prevent and the crew were usually dowsed by an oncoming wave.
Things continued like this for a couple of hours till we were treated to first light. We could now see the waves and were treated to some nice surfing conditions.
New Year’s Day
Went up to blue skies and following breeze 20 to 24 knots and a cooperative sea. All of my watch got to the helm including Su who had been stuck in the sail locker for days repairing the code 3..
Night time we came to the view of the Southern Cross and 15 minutes later all stars we’re gone and again just dark clouds to follow till dawn.
Post dawn we gybed then set the code 2 spinnaker . The yacht was now moving nicely along with not long till we reach the waters off the South Coast of Tasmania.